Back to ‘school as usual’

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DRC/Al Key
Selwyn College Preparatory School headmaster Connie Miller addresses students at an assembly in the gymnasium on their first day back to class after a fire destroyed the private school’s main building Thursday.
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Classes start again as Selwyn works to move on from fire

Classes resumed Tuesday at Selwyn College Preparatory School just five days after an early morning fire destroyed the campus' main building.

Students in kindergarten through fifth grade arrived at unfamiliar classrooms in the early childhood and middle school buildings. Thursday's fire destroyed the more-than-50-year-old building that housed kindergarten through fifth-grade classrooms, administrative offices, the school kitchen, the drama department, art rooms and science and computer laboratories.

"The kids are in different buildings, which has turned out to be an adventure for them," headmaster Connie Miller said of the young students. "They're having fun getting to see a different side of the campus."

Portable classrooms offered by the Denton school district began arriving Tuesday and were being placed just north of the old main building. School officials said they expected the portable buildings to be fully operational and ready for classroom and administrative use within the next week or two. Until then, both students and staff are using space available in other campus buildings.

After a few days away, Miller said it was wonderful to see Selwyn students returning to the classroom.

"The kids are doing beautifully," she said. "It's school as usual.

"Overall [they] have been quite resilient adapting to their new surroundings."

Miller said she was overwhelmed by the community support the school has seen in its efforts to begin rebuilding. The Denton school district offered six portable classrooms, some of which were delivered Tuesday; other private and parochial schools have offered supplies, and local businesses, parents and school alumni have also offered their support, she said. There has been a steady flow of people bringing children's books, board games, paper and old computers to help the school get back on its feet, Miller said.

John Doncaster, the school's founding headmaster, who served from 1957 to 1989, and his sons have also offered to assist with rebuilding efforts, according to school officials.

"It's been absolutely the most beautiful outpouring of support in my career," Miller said. "This whole city has been absolutely beautiful. Everyone has tried to help in any way. I haven't even been able to return all the phone calls yet."

Damages from last week's fire, which are being linked to electrical appliances and wiring in a kindergarten classroom and a school hallway, have been estimated at nearly $3 million. Firefighters have completed their investigation of the destroyed U-shaped main building, and the case has been handed over to the school's insurance company for further investigation.

Last week, David Biles, chairman of Selwyn's board, said the school looks to rebuild the main building with a projected opening within the next year.

BRITNEY TABOR can be reached at 940-566-6876. Her e-mail address is .

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